Some Maryland residents may be aware that starting at the end of 2014, children fleeing from violence in Central America as well as eligible family members could apply to remain in the United States under the Central American Minors program. The program also offered an avenue for children younger than 21 with parents lawfully residing in the country to undergo a resettlement interview before coming to the United States. As of Aug. 16, however, the Trump administration has ended the program.
More than 2,700 children had been conditionally approved to enter the country, but that approval has now been rescinded. Most of the children were from El Salvador. According to the advocacy group Kids in Need of Defense, the children will probably find a more dangerous way to come to the United States.
From the program’s beginning to Aug. 4, over 1,500 children and family members had been admitted to the United States with refugee status. The program gave them two years’ parole and the right to apply for work permits as well as to travel and remain in the country. Those already in the program will have to reapply after two years. Their parole will not be renewed unless they can show an urgent humanitarian need or public benefit. The refugee part of the program is unaffected by the termination.
As the termination of this program shows, immigration laws may change rapidly. The Trump administration is making an effort to reduce immigration, and people who plan to immigrate using existing programs may want to talk to an attorney who can keep them informed of any changes and suggest alternatives to avenues for immigration that may end. Some people may be eligible for asylum if returning to their home country puts them in danger.